Critical This Hint requires immediate attention, as the issue may have a serious impact upon crawling, indexing or ranking. Issue This Hint represents an error or problem that needs to be fixed.

Has outgoing hreflang annotations to noindex URLs

This means that the URL in question has at least one outgoing hreflang annotation URL which is noindex.

Why is this important?

Hreflang tags are interpreted by search engines as indexing instructions. An English page that has hreflang pointing at its French alternate is instructing search engines to index both the English version and the French version, and to consider each as equivalent in their respective languages.

If this French page had a meta noindex on it, then this would be an instruction to not index the French page.

So the hreflang is saying 'please index the French page', and the noindex is saying 'don't index the French page.'

This type of conflicting instruction serves to confuse search engines, to the point where they may ignore the hreflang completely.

What does the Hint check?

This Hint will trigger for any URL which contains hreflang annotations, where at least one of the hreflang URLs is noindex.

Note: This Hint is very similar to another Hint: Noindex URL has incoming hreflang. The difference being that this Hint is analysing the page with hreflang on (i.e. outgoing hreflang) whereas the other Hint is analysing the target page of a hreflang annotation (i.e. incoming hreflang).

Examples that trigger this Hint:

Consider the URL: https://example.com/us/page-a/

The Hint would trigger for this URL if it included an hreflang annotation:

<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/fr/page-a/" hreflang="fr-fr" />

where this hreflang page had a noindex in the <head>:

<!doctype html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
<title>example</title>
<meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">
<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/us/page-a/" hreflang="en-us" />
...
</head>
<body>...</body>
</html>

OR in the HTTP header:

HTTP/... 200 OK
...
X-Robots-Tag: noindex

How do you resolve this issue?

This Hint is marked 'Critical' as it represents a fundamentally breaking issue, which may have a serious adverse impact upon organic search traffic. It is strongly recommended that Critical issues are dealt with as a matter of high priority.

There is a clear conflict between hreflang and noindex. Assuming that the hreflang itself has been set up correctly (i.e. it is pointing at the correct URLs), then the solution is simply to remove the noindex from all hreflang URLs.

Further Reading

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